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Parker pushes Spurs to 2-0 lead

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Parker did so little in the first half Wednesday, he gave San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich a scare, but then he came alive at the right time.

Parker scored 24 of his game-high 28 points in the second half to lead a balanced effort, and the Spurs took a 2-0 advantage in their first-round Western Conference playoff matchup against the limping Los Angeles Lakers with a 102-91 win at the AT&T Center.

Game 3 is Friday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"I've been battling a lot of injuries," Parker said. "It felt good tonight, so hopefully I can maintain that. More importantly, we won the game and the team played very well tonight."

Parker hit nine of 20 shots from the floor and nine of 10 from the free-throw line, and he added seven assists. He scored 12 straight in the third after the Lakers cut the lead to 65-59.

"Well, he really gave us a boost," Popovich said. "He sort of played a team game in the first half. He moved the ball and didn't really get involved that much. I was actually a little concerned. We always need him to be aggressive, and he knew that. He's been around long enough to know what was going on and that we needed to score."

Steve Blake and Dwight Howard each scored 16 to lead the Lakers, who now look to protect their home court. Blake left the game in the fourth quarter with a right hamstring injury and didn't return. The severity of the ailment wasn't clear. Losing Blake would be devastating to the Lakers, who are already playing without star Kobe Bryant.

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili made the most of his limited minutes, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, grabbing five rebounds and handing out seven assists. He went 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Ginobili played only 19 minutes due to his recovery from a hamstring injury, but he has been surprisingly effective despite missing a number of games late in the regular season.

Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and seven rebounds for San Antonio, and he electrified the home crown with an alley-oop dunk and another in the open floor. Tim Duncan contributed 16 points and five rebounds.

The Spurs bench, led by Ginobli and Matt Bonner (10 points), outscored the Lakers' reserves 32-24. Leonard's aggressiveness also caught the Lakers by surprise.

"(The Spurs) have so many guys who can make baskets," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's either Bonner doing it or Leonard doing it. It's always Parker, Ginobili and Duncan, but then someone else picks up the slack, and tonight it was Leonard and Bonner."

D'Antoni became the first Lakers coach to lose his first two playoff games.

Both teams struggled from the field in Game 1 (the Spurs shot 37 percent and the Lakers 41 percent) but shot much better in Game 2. The Spurs hit 49 percent, and the Lakers made 44 percent.

Pau Gasol added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who went deep into the bench with Jodie Meeks missing the game due to a sprained left ankle and Steve Nash noticeably limping because of a hip injury. Only Antawn Jamison saw action from the regular reserves, and Earl Clark (four points) and Darius Morris (10 points) came in to try to stabilize the bench.

The news doesn't get much better for Nash, who reinjured his hamstring in the first half. He still managed to score nine points and hand out six assists in 31 minutes.

NOTES: Lakers center Jordan Hill was available after being cleared to play after hip surgery three months ago. He played six minutes and had two points. ... Popovich said that forward Boris Diaw is doubtful for the first round with a spine injury. ... Newly signed forward Tracy McGrady is still inactive for San Antonio. ... The NBA announced the Defensive Player of the Year award results Wednesday. Duncan finished sixth in the voting, and Howard came in 14th. The Grizzlies' Marc Gasol won the award for the first time in his career... The Spurs are now 56-19 in the playoffs since moving to the AT&T Center in 2002-03 season... Bryant caused a stir with his in-game Twitter comments during Game 1, and he subsequently vowed to stay off the social-media site while the team is playing. He stayed true to his word Wednesday.
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